(2 Corinthians 11:1-15)
The one who is masquerading as an 'angel of light' is the specific reason for Paul's next point in evaluating ministries. Although Paul himself did not consider his own speaking abilities to be of admirable quality (v. 6), he did come to Corinth with the fullness of truth and gospel. Yet, the congregation has started to turn away form this and are accepting a new type of 'knowledge.'
The interpreter is left wondering just what kind of new 'knowledge' this was . . . Are we talking about the ten secrets to spiritual success? Or life-changing discipleship in just five minutes a day? Or perhaps tips on how to increase your church attendance (and giving) in just forty days? . . . We are unsure. What is clear is that it went against the heart of the gospel message and led people away from the kingdom.
Paul's judgment in 11:14-15 is interesting, for he considers these who are masquerading as workers of righteousness to be themselves deceived by the master of deception. Could it be that this group did not realize the error of their own ways, thinking that they were right all along even when they have failed to rightly judge their own fruits by the Spirit? Perhaps. Or this could be a group which knows of their own falsehood and yet continue to go on as though they were agents of the Spirit (this would then make them the spiritual ancestry of Benny Hinn). In either case, the verdict remains the same: these who prop themselves up to positions of leadership and influence have an obligation to the body of Christ that they evaluate themselves in light of the kingdom and Spirit.
Even those things which come to us as 'church-centered' cannot replace the supremacy of Christ in our churches, and should thus be thrown out. Congregations are not the center of our faith. Through our spiritual bond in Christ we may be the living temple of his presence, but that does not give us license to place ourselves before him. While we spend time talking and evaluating and seeking methodological madness to spiritual *success* we find ourselves devoting more attention to our own earthbound endeavors than keeping our minds focused on things above. And the master of deception continues to mask self-centeredness, greed and accomplishment in the robe of light that might appear to be righteousness.
Through God's great mercy, let us humbly come before him and open our eyes that he might reach in and grab hold of our hearts, keeping us centered on him alone.